« AnteriorContinuar »
of justification by faith alone, which is witnessed by the law and by the prophets; and is completely unfolded in the New Testament. And, secondly; because it is equally in-. consistent with the nature of good work*. The best of human works are imperfect in the sight of God. They cannot stand the inquisition of his justice. They are rendered complete and acceptable before him, only through the atonement of his Son. Admit any human work to have been perfect. It might have stood by its perfection. Perfect however it ought to be; and more than perfect it could not be. It could boast no superfluous merit. It could advance no overplus of worth which might be applied to make atonement for evil deeds. He who had wrought that work would still have been, as to that very work, an unprofitable servant; he would have done no more than it ivas his duty to do. Good works, persevering good works, stedfast and habitual holiness of heart and of conduct, are indispensable to salvation. By requiring them as indispensable, faith establishes the law* grace proscribes and anathematises continuance in sin. But they cannot buy salvation: they can pay no part of its price; they must let that alone for ever. Indispensable as they are,
they are vahjable,-but as evidences, the sole ev'r dences, of that faith, which justifies through the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
My Christian,brethren, I have now endeavoured to set before you, conformably to the simplicity artd the genuine doctrine of the Scriptures, this most important, this frequently misunderstood and misrepresented subject, the method of justification through the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me conclude, with briefly recapitulating the substance of this divine plan, in the way of general application.
If you are seeking pardon and eternal life, seek them not by standing on the deeds of the law: seek them not by claiming them as in the slightest degree or portion due to any works of your own. The law worketh wrath. By tbe.-deeds of the law JJjall no flesh be juflijied^ifkthbfight of Kjod. Enter not into judgement with thy servants 0 Lord: for in thy fight shall no man living be justified. The law of a God of perfect holiness is itself a law of perfect holiness, and requires perfect obedience. If you fail in any one point, it denounces the penalty of eternal death. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things wfricb are written in the book of the law to do them. You are conscious that, in common with the rest of mankind, you have failed, Vol. I. E you you have transgressed, in numberless instances. What day has passed without your having; done, either in thought, or in word, or in action, that which you ought not to have done; and without your having left undone that which you ought to have done? Were the very best of you to examine fairly the very best of your works, you would find them to have been so imperfect; to have fallen so far below the standard towards which a higher measure of antecedent holiness would have advanced them; to have been so far from proceeding from truly Christian motives, and from those only; to have been so stained in part, either in the intention, or in the execution, or in both, with various degrees of guilt; that you would tremble at the thought of producing them as pure, as examples of perfect obedience before God, Before him we all stand condemned sinners. From the law it is impossible to derive forgiveness. If we are saved, we must be saved by one able to make an atonement. We must be saved by unmerited grace through a Redeemer. We must receive salvation as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ the Son of the Mostlligh. Renounce then, unreservedly renounce, all presumptuous ideas of merit in yourselves. Look to the cross on which the
promised Redeemer died, and to that only. Present yourselves as suppliants for mercy through faith in his atoning blood. It is only by his atoning blood that your sins can be washed away. It is only by faith that the fruits and merits of the death of Christ can be received and applied to the benefit of your soul. But remember that, if you wish Christ to be your Saviour, you must receive him as your Master. If you desire a justifying faith, it must be a living faithi It must be a faith wrought by the Holy Ghost. It must be a faith which governs the heart. It must be a faith which worketh by love. It must be a faith, which labours after universal holiness. You must give up yourselves wholly to Christ. You must make it your constant ob-ject, and your supreme delight, to obey all the commandments of your Lord; to walk Hot after the flesh, but after the Spirit; to have your heart filled with Christian tempers, and impelled and controlled by Christian motives. These blessings are in no degree to be attained by your own strength. They are entirely the gifts jof the Spirit of God. But Christ, by his death, has purchased them for all who seek them through him. If you seek them by daily and fervent prayer, offered in his name and grounded on his merits; if, in proE 2 portion portion to the grace which he has vouchsafed, you constantly strive to act as, his faithful servants; he will bestow them in larger and larger abundance upon you. Then will he acknowledge you for his own at the last day: and while he commands the wicked, who remain under- the curse of the law, to depart into everlasting sire; will address to you the unchangeable benediction, " Come, ye blessed "of my Father: inherit the kingdom pre"pared for you from the foundation of the "world."